Wilma Richardson, 78, has lived in a small row-home on East Somerset Street in Kensington for 20 years. She paid off her mortgage last week, and now her concerns have turned from paying for her home to maintaining it.
“Its just small things,” she said, like fixing a wooden shelf and an old storm-door. But even simple repairs can be difficult to impossible on a fixed income. “I haven’t had the money,” she added.
On Thursday the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) organized an event to help Kensington homeowners, like Richardson, learn about the services available to help maintain and improve their homes. The event brought together nonprofits, banks and local companies to share the services they offer. There were also workshops on financial training and home repair.
Service providers set up tables and talked with residents about how to access the programs and what the qualifications are.
The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, which had a table at the event, provided information on a program that offers home repairs and modifications worth up to $2,400 to elderly homeowners age 60 and over. Projects range from installing smoke alarms and hand railings to fixing electrical switches and leaky faucets.
Richard Klimek, housing supervisor at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, said that the focus of the program is on safety improvements.
Many of the services represented at the event are similarly focused in some way based on the mission of the service provider. The Energy Coordination Agency, for example, focuses on energy efficiency improvements. The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation’s Basic Systems Repair Program focuses on high-priority repairs, such as to plumbing, electrical and heating systems.
Kensington resident Dale Chapman took off from work to learn more about housing repair
These programs often benefit the overall home — but Richardson’s wooden shelves may not be eligible for many of the programs available.
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NKCDC has its own housing services — such a weatherization program and counseling for first time home-buyers — but in many cases it helps residents access other services it can’t offer itself, according to Joe Filipski, foreclosure prevention specialist for the CDC.
Knowledge of housing services, though readily available online and through community organizations like NKCDC, is still hard to come by for some residents of Philadelphia’s most blighted neighborhoods.
Dale Chapman, a school bus driver who took off from work to attend the event, has suffered through bitterly cold winters due to cracks in her windows. Now she wants to change that.
“I want the knowledge to take better care of the house,” Chapman said.-30-
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